Child support in California is based primarily on each parent's income and the amount of time each spends with their children (timeshare). A significant other's income is not supposed to be considered in calculating support.
Family Code Section 4057.5(a)(1) and (2) prevents a court from considering a new partner or a new spouse's income in making a child support order, except for "extraordinary cases" to prevent "extreme and severe hardship" to children. These extraordinary cases are rare.
The law is not as absolute as it first appears. New mate income cannot be directly considered, but can be used to figure out each parent's tax liability. (See the case of County of Tulare v. Campbell (1996) 50 Cal. App. 4th 847). The child support computer program (Dissomaster™) takes a parent's gross income and tax filing status, determines net income and then calculates support using the California Guideline formula.
Therefore, a new marriage can result in an order for less support. In a case where father earns $4000 a month and has a 30% timeshare, with 3 children, and mother earns $2000 a month - child support is $916 a month. Later, the only change is father marries a woman earning $7500 a month. After this one change, child support is now $808 a month - $108 a month less.
Even though father's lifestyle has clearly changed for the better, support is less. This is because the law only allows the Court to look at father's net income - which is now $4000 a month after tax in an $11500 bracket. Like it or not, be prepared for this to be an issue when child support is decided.
For more information, contact us.
Ernest A. Casacca